Grilled chicken and the spice and smoke of tandoori style marinade plays in perfect balance with a medium bodied, lightly oaked white wine.
Basic Tandoori Chicken
The first thing we need to think about for the perfect tandoori chicken wine pairing is what ingredients we will encounter in the dish. Breaking down those ingredients helps us determine how the flavors interact with the properties of the wine, for an enhanced dining experience.
Since we’re working with chicken, the obvious place to start is a white wine. A grilled or broiled chicken will go well with a medium white wine. The exposure to open flame will break down the meat and release more flavor as opposed to poaching or baking. For this reason, our tandoori chicken wine pairing can go with a richer white wine like chardonnay. Otherwise, a lighter wine like pinot grigio will wash out with the bolder flavor of a grilled meat.
The yogurt is fermented milk, which in our case will be goat’s milk because we will be using a Greek-style yogurt. The lactic acid byproduct of this fermentation gives the yogurt its tangy flavor, but it is not overwhelming. Interestingly enough, lactic acid is a very mild acid that is found in some wines. Greek yogurt, it turns out, makes a great marinade base with this dish because unlike a vinegar based marinade, we’re not getting unruly with the acid and we won’t be overpowering our protein with acidity.
Most basic tandoori chicken recipes will rely on chili powder, turmeric, and paprika. Since we’re going with a white wine, we will want something heavier in body to stand up to the spice. In our dish below, we will be bringing a southwest flavor to the party: chipotle powder. Chipotle is none other than dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. For our tandoori chicken wine pairing, the chipotle will bring the noise when it comes to smoky flavor. So for this reason, a wine with a little oak will help stand up to the smoke and spice.
Recipe: The Perfect Tandoori Chicken Wine Paring
Our lively chardonnay hails from Lake County, CA, which because of its warmer climate is going to pronounce the rich flavors of the fruits. You must think we’re crazy to mix two doses of spice with Mexican and Indian flavors in one dish, and then try and sell you on a white wine, but when your mouth relaxes with the smokey/smooth flavor of the chipotle creama, you’ll agree, this the best damn tandoori chicken wine pairing trip you’ve ever been on. Its flavor city, and it all comes together in a great meal that will have you begging for more chipotle and curry creations.
Californian Tandoori Chicken Tacos with Chardonnay
With Roasted Corn and Chipotle Crema
Looking for the perfect Tandoori chicken wine pairing? Why not rethink your chicken delivery system instead? Think Tacos! Hey, the name on the bottle of this chardonnay says “Cali” so of course we’re going to bed our grilled tandoori chicken on a nice warm flour tortilla and top it with some savory sauce i.e. our special Chipotle Crema.
- 3 tsp curry powder
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 3 Tbsp Avacodo Oil
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 6-8 ounces per person, boneless/skinless chicken thighs (recommended)
Thighs are going to be the juiciest, most tender way to go for the grill. You can also try whole leg/thighs with bone-in for a more traditional approach, and de-bone when assembling the tacos. We opted for boneless because they grill up quickly in 12 minutes vs. 20 to 40 minutes with the bone-in version.
Chipotle Crema Sauce
- ½ onion
- Tbs chicken broth or avocado oil
- ½ tbs chipotle powder
- Tbs tomato paste, tomatoes or salsa, or sriracha sauce (for color)
- 1 Ear corn
- Red cabbage
- Heat the spices – everything but salt – in the avocado oil over medium heat for two to three minutes.
- Remove from heat
- Add the remaining marinade ingredients: yogurt, lime juice, garlic, ginger
- Marinate the chicken for at least one hour before grilling using your favorite marinating method
Chipotle Crema Sauce
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of chicken broth or avocado oil, heat and then sauté ½ diced onion until clear.
- Add ½ teaspoon of chipotle power and 1 cup yogurt
- Stir until a smooth creamy sauce
- Add a tablespoon of something red like tomato paste, Sriracha, or salsa for color
- Stir in until desired light pink color is acheived
- Keep warm
Grill the Chicken and Corn
- Preheat the grill
- Assemble skewers with marinated chicken and discard any leftover marinade
- Start the corn first – it will need a few more minutes – salting if desired
- Grill the skewers on a well-oiled grill for 12-15 minutes
- Turn corn and skewers every 3-4 minutes until everything is cooked through
Assemble the Tacos
- Reduce the grill’s heat to low
- Remove the grilled corn and tandoori chicken from the grill and set aside to cool
- Meanwhile heat flour tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds each tortilla
- Return to your prep area and build the tacos
- Warm flour tortilla
- Warm chunks of southwest tandoori chicken
- Shave the corn and add a pinch to each taco
- Pinch of shredded red cabbage
- Drizzle with chipotle crema – the best part!
- Garnish with cilantro
We served this alongside Spanish rice and refried beans, like a traditional Southern California style meal. To dress up the side dishes we added a few spoons of chipotle crema and salsa.